How to Care for Curls
Afro and Curly hair generally needs to be cared for in a different manner to straight hair. My coils & curls change from one day to the next and often have a mind of thier own. With that in mind everyones curls are different and it's about finding the right products and methods that work for you. However I do believe curly hair doesn't have to be high maintenance. Hopefully these tips will give some insight into what haircare and techniques there are and I hope that there is something useful in this blog to get those coils & curls popping and looking the best that they can.
Porosity refers to how well your hair absorbs and holds moisture. Therefore working out your hair porosity can be helpful for finding the best method and products for your hair. A simple test is to place a clean hair strand into a glass of water and wait 5 minutes. If the hair floats the hair is low porosity (moisture repelling), if the hair sinks half way it's medium porosity (allows moisture in & low maintenance) and if the hair falls to the bottom it is high porosity (moisture attracting). Hair can change in porosity, if hair is damaged it's likely to be high porosity.
I trim the ends of my hair every 2-3 months and its honestly the best conditioner for the hair. Trimming doesn't help the hair grow but will help with length retention as the new growth is less likely to split off, if the ends are healthy. Curly hair that is similar to my texture (3C- 4A) is best cut when dry and natural (curl by curl) to reduce shrinkage when cutting wet. If you have 2B - 3A curls you could get a wet cut if you straighten your hair from time to time. See curl chart below.
PROTECT: MINIMISE HEAT & MANIPULATION
Heat and manipulation will cause the most amount of damage to curly hair. Creating protective styles with your hair, where the ends are tucked away and changing up your parting can help minimise breakage through manipulation. Avoid heat where possible and when using heat, apply a heat defence product. Heat has the ability to change the porosity of hair, which can make curls more frizzy and less defined. I still straighten my hair once every 2-3 months, just to mix things up and enjoy my length. However I always use a heat defence when flat ironing and blow drying - even on a cool setting. Sleeping with a silk or satin bonnet and pillow case can help reduce friction breakage overnight. Protecting the hair at night can also help keep the ends moisturised, as silk won't rob the hair of moisture like cotton does. See suggestions of heat defence products.
If you struggle with dryness like me, a pre-poo before shampooing is a great idea. A pre-poo consists of a mixture of deep penetrating oils applied to the hair. This helps moisturise the hair strands before cleaning the hair; It works almost like a mask. I often apply my pre-poo before my evening run and wear a cap. The cap creates heat which helps the hair strands open up so the oil can absorb into my low porosity hair. You can just cover the hair in a bonnet and leave for 30 minutes as another option to create natural heat. See suggested deep penetrating pre-poo oils below (preferably organic, extra virgin and unrefined).
1. Avocado Oil
2. Castor Oil
3. Olive Oil
4. Babassu Oil
5. Coconut Oil
Shampoo is important for keeping the scalp clean to help promote growth. Because I am particularly active and sweat a lot, I shampoo once a week and co-wash (see below) once a week. I tend to avoid Sulphates & Silicones as I personally find them drying for my curls and silicone can coat the hair, blocking it from absorbing important moisturising ingredients. Sulphates are great surfactants, so they attract oil and water which helps to clear dirt and oil but sulphate-free shampoos tend to leave a little more of the hair’s natural oils behind after washing. Some of my regulars are as follows.
TO CO-WASH OR NOT TO CO-WASH
Washing curly hair regularly with shampoo is essential for keeping the scalp clean and healthy. However washing curly hair too regularly with shampoo can strip hair of the natural oils that keep it healthy. Co-washing is just washing the hair with conditioner rather than shampoo, a great option if you need to wash your curly hair more than once a week but I wouldn't recommend back to back co-washes as this can cause buildup at the root. Listed below are some of my wash favourites.
4.Pattern beauty Intensive Conditioner - $9 ('Intensive' is the only Pattern sulphate & silicone free conditioner)
Applying a hair mask is a good habit to get into once a week. Hair masks help to intensively moisturise the hair and help inject some moisture into the ends of the hair. I tend to use a mask after shampooing to replace my conditioner. If you add an element of heat this can help the hair strand open up, I like to use a shower cap followed by a wool hat to create heat. Rinsing with cold water after will close the hair strand, reducing frizz & enhancing shine. Some of my favourites are a follows.
Detangling the hair regularly can help prevent breakage. I like to finger detangle my hair when conditioning in the shower. I find using hands rather than a comb means you can gently work through the knots and avoid breaking the hair. Detangling wet hair means less frizz when it comes to styling but if I do detangle on dry hair I always apply a Leave in conditioner. See suggestions.
2.Maui Moisture Curl Milk - £8.99
Curly hair needs moisturising to stay healthy and help length retention. After leave in products I like to apply a moisturising cream to help soften the hair. Listings below are some of my regular moisturising hair care.
Applying an oil to the ends of damp (not saturated) hair, is a great way to keep hair hydrated. I like to apply my oil after leave in conditioner before my styling products. Applying oil to the hands before manipulating dry hair can reduce breakage, frizz and add a bit of shine. Listed below are some of my go-to oils that I mix myself.
1. Argan Oil
2. Olive Oil
3. Castor Oil
4. Pumpkin Oil
5. Avocado Oil
Stylers are used to hold the curls, lay down edges or for any braid outs & twist styles. They can add volume, define curls and help to add shine. I like to use a styling product after my moisturiser and oils generally. However If you want to make a braid out or twist out look more lived in, I'd recommend using oil last to help reduce frizz. Here are couple of my favourite stylers.